Meet our team
Dr John Armstrong, GP
John is the longest serving GP in Rotorua. He is a highly qualified (John has Fellowship of the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners, the highest qualification available to GP’s) and experienced General Practitioner with a passion for patient care – he has many third-generation patients whom he has known since birth (he even delivered some of their mothers!).
John is committed to making a difference in the area of Maori health. In 2004 he created a unique programme for the Rotorua General Practice Group, called Whanau Ora. (In no way associated with the National/Maori Party coalition initiative that goes by the same name.) John's programme supported individuals with high risk chronic disease by enlisting at least two family members or friends to help engage that individual to overcome associated risks. In so doing, those family members or friends not only became actively involved in contributing to that person, but in so doing, also contributed to their wider family and to their own physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Hence the term: “Whanau Ora”.
He also developed, along with the Rotorua Coroner, a post-mortem diversion scheme, designed to avoid unnecessary post-mortems, particularly because he became acutely aware of local Maori concerns about what was seen as a practise that was largely unnecessary and offensive culturally.
The scheme was introduced by John and the Rotorua Coroner in Rotorua in 1999 and as a result, the number of post-mortem examinations at Rotorua Hospital immediately fell by 50%, and remained that way until new legislation was enacted into New Zealand law in the form of the new Coroners Act 2006, which addressed many of the concerns expressed by Maori. John’s submissions to Parliament were influential in making changes to The Act in 2006.
John continues to advocate on behalf of Te Arawa, and Maori in general, on this subject.
When he’s not working, John loves fishing with his two sons and son-in-law, along with his willing mokopuna.
Dr Ileana Onitiu, GP
Ileana was born in Romania and has been with the Owhata Medical Centre for four years. Ileana worked as a scientist in Romania until the fall of communism in Romania in 1989.
She raised her two daughters and in 1996 she entered medical school in Romania, qualifying as a doctor in 2002. She went on to further her studies, obtaining post-graduate qualifications in General Practice in Romania and achieving US qualifications to practise medicine overseas. She has extensive experience as a GP, both here in New Zealand as well as overseas, and is a truly dedicated doctor who is fully committed to patient care.
She holds the highest qualification possible for a GP in NZ, namely, Fellowship of the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners.
Her other passions include tramping in the great outdoors, and of course, her family – she has two daughters who live abroad.
Ata Armstrong, Practice Manager
Owhata practice manager Ata is married to doctor John and is also a passionate advocate for whanau health. She has three children and eleven grandchildren and prioritises family time whenever possible.
Debra Fraser (PhD), Health Psychologist
PGDipPsychPrac, MNZPB, MIHP, MNZPS, ACC Reg.
Psychology & Counselling Partners Ltd, 027 283 0059
Debra rents a room from us two days a week and is highly qualified and skilled in a number of areas of psychology. She practices in Rotorua and Hamilton and we are fortunate to have her in our premises and available to provide the specialised and sensitive care that she is renowned for. She has a huge repertoire of qualifications and experiences far too numerous to mention, suffice to say that on enquiring to above number you will be well informed.
Eliza Stephens, Registered Nurse
Eliza is a registered nurse and has been part of the Owhata team for 3 years. She has a great rapport with patients, offers a wealth of medical knowledge and is also responsible for helping to train new nurses. She is a mother of 4 active sporting children and is also involved in sport herself. She plays women’s rugby for Waikite and touch for the Bay of Plenty. Eliza is very passionate and thrives on being a Practice Nurse.
Loveleen Kaur, Registered Nurse
Loveleen is a registered nurse and a welcome new addition to the Owhata team, having recently graduated from nursing school. She was a star student and is now building great relationships with patients and taking her new role of GP nurse in her stride. Loveleen speaks 3 languages: Punjabi, Hindi, and English.
Leesa King, Registered Nurse
Leesa is a registered nurse. She trained in the Hawkes Bay and was happy to return to Rotorua and her whanau whakapapa to Owhata Marae at Hinemoa Point. She is based at Owhata Medical Centre and is also our Piripoho Community nurse. In this role, she provides nursing services primarily to the youth of our community and their extended families. Building relationships with the community is a critical part of this role and Leesa excels at this.
Karen Lowe, Office Manager
The office manager, Karen is an organisational superstar – she runs a tight ship, but always has a smile on her face. She has been with the team for many years and is fully committed to the wellbeing of Owhata patients. Karen grew up in Rotorua and is a proud mother and new grandmother.
Rebecca Lowe, Reception
Keeping it in the family, Rebecca is one of Karen’s daughters and recently joined the Owhata team as receptionist. Rebecca has just returned to Aotearoa after a long stint overseas, and has slotted in with the team seamlessly with her broad skillset and positive attitude.
Nicole Te Aonui, Reception
Another of Karen’s daughters, Nicole, works on reception and balances her career in patient care with motherhood duties – she has a beautiful baby girl, Lilly, who is also very much part of the Owhata team. And in July, Lilly will also become a big sister.
Jaimie King, Reception
Receptionist Jaimie is a recent addition to the Owhata team and is well known for her friendly and calm manner on the front desk. Jaimie has five children, so naturally she is a fantastic organiser and multi-tasker!
Alana Rewiri, Reception
Alana is the newest member of our team and works as a receptionist. Alana is very enthusiastic, has a lovely rapport with our patients and fits in well with the rest of the team. She is a mum to two girls and in her spare time she does Iron Maori triathlons and runs in long distance events - she is one super fit lady!